Finland brings in stricter limits on borders due to new COVID-19 variants

A passenger wearing a face mask walks at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Vantaa
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(Reuters) - The Finnish government said on Friday it would put in place stricter regulations from Jan. 27 for entering the country, due to new variants of the coronavirus spreading within its borders.

"The fastest way is to limit the reasons to enter the country," health minister Krista Kiuru told a news conference, adding all travellers will be sent for a coronavirus test on border.

Finland, which has recently been among the least affected in Europe by the coronavirus, has so far found 86 people carrying the new variants.

Finland will restrict entry from all Schengen countries - where people are allowed to travel without border control - permitting only essential travel for work for services like healthcare and emergency services.

Finnish officials said the new limitations should cut air travellers by around 75%, the amount of people traveling by sea to Estonia by around 75% and crossing on its Swedish border by aroud 50%.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Chizu Nomiyama)